Excerpt from Jim Cymbala's new book Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit.
When God's Spirit moves, his purposes are revealed and accomplished in ways that no committee, personality test, or computer program could ever figure out.
D. L. Moody is a great example of that. No one ever would have expected him to be one of the greatest evangelists of all time. Moody was initially a shoe salesman and basically uneducated. He was a short, overweight man and not very good-looking. He had a slight speech impediment and a rapid-fire delivery when he spoke.
From a cartoon of D. L. Moody, dated 1875.
After he became a Christian, he started working with children on the streets of Chicago, working with the YMCA, and later handing out tracts during the Civil War. Though he never went to seminary, his work bore fruit, and eventually he was invited to England to preach.
While he was there, well-trained, velvet-tongued pastors sat in amazement at his preaching. Many of their churches were dead, and the kingdom wasn't being extended. But along came Moody, and the crowds followed. Despite his limitations, God’s blessing was evident. The guy couldn’t even pronounce Daniel correctly. He said Dan'l. And more difficult names like Nebuchadnezzar? Not even close.
A man known only by Mr. Reynolds once described the first time he met Moody:
The first meeting I ever saw him at was in a little old shanty that had been abandoned by a saloon-keeper. Mr. Moody had got the place to hold the meeting in at night. I went there a little late: and the first thing I saw was a man standing up, with a few tallow candles around him, holding [a young African-American boy], and trying to read to him the story of the Prodigal Son; and a great many of the words he could not make out, and had to skip. I thought, If the Lord can ever use such an instrument as that for his honor and glory, it will astonish me. After that meeting was over, Mr. Moody said to me, "Reynolds, I have got only one talent: I have no education, but I love the Lord Jesus Christ, and I want to do something for Him: and I want you to pray for me." I have never ceased from that day to this, morning and night, to pray for that devoted Christian soldier.
In a sense, Moody was nearly semiliterate. I once saw a letter written by Moody that was reproduced in Love Them In: The Life and Theology of D. L. Moody, by Stanley N. Gundry. Any sixth grader could do better. There were no capital letters, and commas and periods were few and far between. He would have been laughed at today when we judge ministry by slickness of delivery style and not by spiritual power. Yet this man preached to millions of people with no sound system and became one of the best-known evangelists in the history of Christianity. He led thousands to the Lord and went on to found three schools and a university.
We're not all called to be a D. L. Moody. But regardless of how we're set apart, it is God's responsibility to equip us... Sometimes the work encompasses world-changing missions, such as that of Moody. At other times, the work is much more personal and closer to home...
[Get off the Sidelines with the Spirit's Power]
Just as each member of the human body functions differently from the others, the Spirit energizes each of us in the body of Christ to fulfill God's purpose. Without the Spirit's power being exercised, we tend to sit on the sidelines, inactive and unfulfilled. Worse, we are tempted to critique those actually "in the game" trying to proclaim Christ and serve his people. Anyone can criticize the efforts of another believer, but at the judgment seat of Christ, we will answer for ourselves only, not another...
Christ didn't die on the cross so that we would spend our time as Christians on earth merely sitting around waiting for his return. Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few" (Matt. 9:37). The reason for the shortage today is that too few are yielded to the Spirit whom Christ sent to us. But there's still time, and we have a patient, merciful Savior on our side.
Who knows how God can use you if you step out in faith and let the Holy Spirit take control? We're not called to be spectators watching from the stands as the prince of darkness goes about to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Jesus said there is a shortage of workers, but the actual work will be done by God's Spirit through you and me doing things beyond our wildest imagination. It all begins when you offer yourself to serve.
And then we can pray the prophet Isaiah's prayer, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isa. 6:8).
- Jim Cymbala (@jimcymbala)
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(Image & some styling above are web-exclusive features not included in the text of Spirit Rising. Image attribution: "Prayer and Praise," a Vanity Fair "Spy" Print of D.L. Moody, dated April 3, 1875; courtesy darvillsrareprints.com. This post does not represent the views of Zondervan or any of its representatives. The writer's personal opinions are shared only for information purposes. To receive new Zondervan Blog posts in your reader or email inbox, subscribe to Zondervan Blog.)